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Joe McKnight Is Quietly Playing Very Well on Special Teams

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Joe McKnight is doing positive things without touching the ball.
Joe McKnight is doing positive things without touching the ball.

We have talked quite a bit about some of the reasons the Jets did not make a bad move waiving Danny Woodhead despite Woodhead's success in New England. Let me give you a new one. If Woodhead was with the Jets, he would be third on the depth chart. He would not be getting many carries. The only role he would have would be playing special teams. The third back some say the team should have cut to keep Woodhead, Joe McKnight, has found a new role on special teams as a gunner.

Injuries forced him into the spot four games ago. In those four games, the Jets are allowed 3.28 yards per return, an eye popping number. Only seven of twenty-three punts have been returned. Part of that is due to the work McKnight is doing as a gunner. The punter, Steve Weatherford is doing a good job making his kicks difficult to return, and the other guys on coverage are doing good work as well. McKnight has made an impact in every game except New England. He made a tackle against the Bengals. He downed one punt a piece against Miami and Pittsburgh and forced multiple fair catches against the Dolphins. Even when he has not necessarily put up numbers, he has been in position frequently to down punts or redirect runners.

He has been a guy I have noticed winning assignments on almost every return. Woodhead has proven that he is a good player. However, he never made an impact on special teams the way McKnight has. Danny's most memorable play in a regular season game was losing contain on one of Ted Ginn's touchdown returns last year. I'm not sure he would be as effective as McKnight. Since he wouldn't be getting touches, I think the Jets have been justified for their move at least as far as this season goes.